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Commuters warned of blizzards, whiteouts as Midwest gets its first major snowstorm this season

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    A snow plow spreads salt and sand Wednesday Dec. 19, 2012 in Omaha, Neb. A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains is heading east and is forecast to bring the first major winter storm of the season to the central plains and Midwest.(AP Photo/The World-Herald, Jimmie Burnett) MAGS OUT; ALL NEBRASKA LOCAL BROADCAST TV OUT (The Associated Press)

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    Mutual of Omaha employees clean their vehicles of snow before leaving on their drive home during the evening commute Wednesday Dec. 20, 2012 in Omaha Neb. A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains is heading east and is forecast to bring the first major winter storm of the season to the central plains and Midwest. (AP Photo/The World-Herald, Matt Miller) MAGS OUT; ALL NEBRASKA LOCAL BROADCAST TV OUT (The Associated Press)

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    Don Hunter shovels outside of Gerda's German Restaurant and Bakery in Omaha Neb., Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains is heading east and is forecast to bring the first major winter storm of the season to the central plains and Midwest. (AP Photo/The World-Herald, Alyssa Schukar) MAGS OUT; ALL NEBRASKA LOCAL BROADCAST TV OUT (The Associated Press)

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    Elementary school students, some escorted by parents, cross a snowy street en route to school as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday Dec. 19, 2012. A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains is heading east and is forecast to bring the first major winter storm of the season to the central plains and Midwest. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (The Associated Press)

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    This NOAA satellite image taken Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 02:00 PM EST shows a few clouds in the Rockies where low pressure continues to develop. This low will intensify through the week, eventually bringing a strong winter storm to the Northeast. (AP Photo/Weather Underground) (The Associated Press)

The first major snowstorm to hit the Midwest this season is sweeping across the region, shuttering schools and creating dangerous driving conditions.

Forecasters are warning that heavy snowfall coupled with strong winds will create blizzard conditions Thursday from Kansas to Wisconsin.

The weather is also threatening to cause delays at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, the nation's second-busiest airport, ahead of the busy holiday weekend.

Nebraska's largest school district canceled classes because of heavy overnight snow, as did many districts across Iowa, where drivers are being told to stay off the roads because of whiteout conditions.

The heaviest snow is expected across a swath extending from northwest Missouri into Milwaukee, Chicago and Michigan. As much as a foot of snow could fall in some areas.